Regional airport’s rehab plans take flight with FAA grant

Published 4:40 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2023

By Jake Moore, Bowling Green Daily News

The Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport’s plan to rehab its main runway has been cleared for takeoff.

Bowling Green’s board of commissioners executed a grant agreement Tuesday to cover just over $60,000 of the projected $2.41 million cost for the airport’s rehabilitation and reconstruction project.

The grant funding comes from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. Federal dollars make up 90% of the grant, the state covers 5% and the city and county will both put up 2.5%.

BWG’s 6,500-foot 3-21 runway is the target for the funding, the larger of the airport’s two runways and the main route for traffic.

“They are crack-filling, sealing and striping the runway,” Airport Manager Susan Harmon told the Daily News. “We are also getting new LED lighting for 3-21.”

She said the runway repairs are “just now due” and it was time for older lighting fixtures to be reconstructed. The runway safety area will also be updated.

“The runway is just like the pavement out on the roads. You’re going to have wear and tear and age on it,” Harmon said.

Harmon said the airport, first established as a military airfield in 1934, plays a “huge role” in the growing Warren County economy.

“We have lots of businesses that bring in cargo for their operations, we also have businesses that bring in top executives for meetings,” Harmon said. “We have charter flights that come in and out of here for corporations and we also have flights that come in for medical reasons.”

Harmon said she’s seen an uptick in flights since 2018, the year she first took leadership of the airport as interim manager.

“Our traffic has increased quite a bit in the last few years,” she said.

Harmon said if “everything goes well,” the airport hopes to begin the project by late September to early October. Phased construction will be done in both the fall and spring and some closures are expected.

Also Tuesday, the commissioners approved a change order to the city’s annual street overlay project done by Scotty’s Contracting & Stone. A little under $45,000 was added to the project cost, bringing it to $2.2 million, to cover the paving of Frontier Avenue.

According to a city memo, the public street had been “gated for many years and neglected” until a recent development opportunity.

City Engineer Melissa Cansler said that opportunity was a new cement plant, which opened earlier this year.

To assist with continued cleanup from the December 2021 tornadoes, the commissioners approved a request from the city’s Neighborhood and Community Services department to put $220,000 of State Aid Funding for Emergencies toward the purchase of a mini excavator.

Per a city memo, storm damaged trees continue to be found in drainage easements, along greenways paths and other public spaces. The excavator will come equipped with a forestry mulching head and assist the city in continuing debris cleanup on private properties through its contract with Bushels and Blooms LLC.

The board also approved a grant application to the 2023 State & Local Cybersecurity Grant Program in the amount of $132,400 that, if awarded, would be used to purchase a password management system and a full security assessment.

The commissioners also OK’d a bevy of promotions within the Bowling Green Fire Department to cover the positions of Engineer Calvin Watts and Deputy Chief Rob Gilliam, who have retired after 25 and 20 years of service, respectively.

BGFD Chief Justin Brooks said the pair had earned their rest, adding that “retirement brings opportunity” to his department.

Battalion Chief Doug Morris was selected to fill the vacancy left by Gilliam. Capt. Joe Harbin was promoted to battalion chief, Engineer Chris Bates earned the rank of captain and firefighters Kenny James and Dakota Justis were moved up as engineers.

Further on in the realm of public safety, the commissioners accepted a pair of grants from the Kentucky 911 Services Board totaling nearly $488,000 to be put toward a new emergency communications recording system and the purchase of seven new dispatch phone consoles to be installed in the primary 911 center in the Bowling Green Police Department.

City Manager Jeff Meisel called the recording system a “critical piece” of technology, adding that the current system is reaching its maximum data capacity.

Finally, the commissioners voted unanimously on a second reading to keep property tax rates in place for the upcoming year. Real estate and personal property rates will stay at 20.5 cents and 26 cents for every $100 of value, respectively.